The Botswana Government has reiterated that it will not compensate farmers who received financial assistance through bank loans for the purchase of cattle which they lost due to drought.
Despite the Government having extended an olive branch to farmers engaged in crop production, Government remains resolute that cattle farmers should pay the loans.
Tonota region representative Kgosi KgosidialwaMoalosi expressed displeasure over the way government has handled the issue saying the move is nothing short of blatant discrimination.
Answering a question posed by the traditional leader Friday, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambostated that dry-land crop farmers were only assisted simply by means of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme.
“There is no other scheme other than ACGS which the land farmers were assisted,” Matambo said.
Minister Matambo also said “Dry-land crop farmers who took loans from CEDA and NDB benefit from the ACGS following the declaration of drought by his Excellency the President of the Republic Botswana. The scheme is meant to assist these farmers in reducing their debts obligations in case of crop failure due to drought, floods, frost and hailstorm.”
Government paid up to 85% of the farmers’ loan instalments falling due in that cropping year, on condition that they would have paid the premium of 5% of the loan instalment towards the scheme.
It is against this backdrop that Moalosiis insistent that Government is applying double standards skewed in favour of crop production farmers against cattle farmers. “Yes, iagree with the honourable member that we should treat the groups on the same footing, but he should understand that cattle farmers too are given subsidies in form of cattle feed and vaccination among other things,” Matambocountered.
Matambo also said, “faced with the current budgetary constraints, Government is not in a financial position to compensate farmers who lost their cattle as a result of drought.”